The Presidential Election Petition Court is set to deliver its verdict on Wednesday (tomorrow) on the two petitions challenging the election of Senator Bola Tinubu as President tomorrow. The petitions were filed by the candidates of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and Labour Party (LP), Mr Peter Obi, who both claim to have won the February 25 presidential poll. The court, presided over by Justice Haruna Tsammani, had concluded hearing the petitions on August 1 and reserved judgement for a later date.
Another petition before the court is that of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), which seeks to disqualify Tinubu from the presidential race on the ground of alleged improper nomination of his running mate, Senator Kashim Shettima.
The Chief Registrar of the Court of Appeal, Mr Umar Bangari, confirmed the judgement date yesterday and said that adequate security measures had been taken. He said that only accredited members of the parties and the public would be allowed into the courtroom to avoid overcrowding and security breaches.
Bangari also said that media houses that wish to broadcast the proceedings live at no cost to the court were welcome to do so.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Tinubu of All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the presidential election, saying that he scored the highest number of valid votes cast in the election. INEC said Tinubu polled a total of 8,794,726 votes to defeat his closest rival, Atiku, who got 6,984,520 votes, and Obi, with 6,101,533 votes.
The court heard arguments from Atiku and Obi, who contested the presidential election against Tinubu and challenged his victory. They alleged that Tinubu did not secure the majority of lawful votes, as INEC had declared, because the collation process was incomplete and manipulated. They also raised other grounds for nullification, such as Tinubu’s alleged ineligibility due to his involvement in a drug case in the US and his failure to meet the 25 per cent threshold in the FCT.
The respondents, however, urged the court to dismiss the petitions as lacking in merit and evidence. They argued that the petitioners relied on a wrong assumption that the Electoral Act, 2022, mandated electronic collation of results. INEC, which conducted the election on February 25, maintained that it followed the law and declared Tinubu as the winner based on valid votes.
Atiku appealed to the panel to make history by nullifying the presidential election for the first time. He asserted that the Electoral Act, 2022, was designed to prevent manipulation and ensure transparency in the collation of results.
He said the petitioners agreed that the IReV technology was deployed when they admitted that there was a glitch in the transmission of the presidential election results.
“The substantiality of the non-compliance was nationwide,” he said when arguing that the said glitch was as a result of human interference.
The petitioners’ counsel, Uche and Uzoukwu, argued that the court should take into account the report of the European Union Observer Mission on the general elections, which they said exposed the irregularities and flaws in the electoral process. They urged the court not to focus on technicalities but to uphold its commitment to substantial justice.
They also asked the court to annul Tinubu’s election, saying that there was no precedent for such a decision, but it could be established in this case. They cited the Supreme Court’s ruling that IReV is part of the electoral process and claimed that INEC manipulated the election results and failed to produce the original copies of the results sheets it certified for the petitioners. They said that Tinubu’s only witness, Senator Bamidele, also confirmed the importance of IReV in the electoral process.